Are Dentists Really Doctors?
“Oh, you’re a dentist? Sorry, I was looking for a real doctor.” Some dentists find that kind of response frustrating, others find it entertaining. The simple truth is that dentists, or any specialized dental practitioner, are by definition a doctor.
Why the Confusion?
The main issue is that most people use unfair generalizations when they speak of “doctors” and “dentists.” When they mention a “doctor,” they are typically referring to a general practitioner, a family practitioner, or some other form of physician. They’re thinking of someone who focuses on treating the entire human anatomy and provides generalized treatment.
However, a general practitioner commonly refers their patients to other professionals who focus on a specific part of the body. For instance, if their patient has an upper respiratory infection, a general practitioner may refer the patient to an ear, nose and throat doctor. They’ll send the patient to an ophthalmologist for eye issues, a pediatrician for foot problems, or an endocrinologist for help with managing diabetes. They do it simply because these other doctors specialize in the treatment and care of a specific part of the body, more so than a general or family practitioner. In the same way, if a patient has a problem with their teeth or gums, a general doctor usually refers them to a dentist because a dentist specializes in that part of the body.
The Medical Qualifications
A doctor goes through years of schooling to receive the knowledge, experience and certifications to perform their practice. Likewise, a dentist goes through four years of study, training, and practice to receive their degree, typically a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD). But the training doesn’t stop there! They continue to learn the latest techniques and applications to give you the best dental care possible.
A dentist’s knowledge helps them to identify other issues beyond the teeth and gums. Their knowledge of human anatomy sometimes leads to diagnosing diseases like cancer, or illnesses like sleep apnea, often during their early, more treatable stages. Dentists also increase their training and expertise to cover specific areas of dental medicine. They even qualify to prescribe medications.
Don’t Disrespect Your Dentist
While dentists are not doctors of medicine, their extensive education and training has certainly earned them the right to be called doctors. The next time you visit the Placerville Dental Group, feel free to ask about what kind of specialized training they’ve taken, and why the chose to take it. You can certainly get to know your dentist as they get to know you, as well as your oral health, and help you maintain it.